The Credit Union Journal Asked, 'Do Your Facilities Need A Makeover?' And Readers Responded, 'Oh, Yeah! Just Take A Look At This.'

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With ABC's Extreme Makeover: Home Edition drawing strong ratings as it enters its second season, The Credit Union Journal wondered if there weren't a few credit unions also in dire need of a makeover. So we asked. And credit unions answered, with forboding walls of dark wood paneling, decor out of the Brady Bunch, and one facility where there isn't even a bathroom for employees! The Journal, in turn, submitted those photos to our panel of Facilities Experts to get their insights on how credit unions could makeover everything from teller lines and lobbies to the backoffice. Inside this issue is the second installment featuring credit unions in need of a makeover (the original installment appeared July 26), along with the suggestions from experts on what to do.

Lost In Space

Credit Union: Great Basin FCU, Reno, Nev.

Assets: $114 Million

Advice: Lots Of Ways To Reuse Current Space

RENO, Nev.-Great Basin FCU asked for help in making over its offices, member service area and even backoffice. After reviewing the photos shown on this page, The Credit Union Journal's team of facilities experts offered the following thoughts.

Ralph LaMacchia, LaMacchia Group, Milwaukee

Thanks for asking us our opinion. We prefer to begin with a modest solution when a budget-sensitive response is needed, as most pie-in-the-sky solutions are usually just that. Some relatively easy fixes for the lobby might be:

* Change the cubicles to private offices.

* Changing ceiling heights and lighting levels can add much at very little cost. Drop or raise the ceiling as appropriate to the space or element you want to attract attention to. For example, raise the ceiling over the teller waiting line. Lower it above the teller line, information desk, the member waiting area and other areas you would like emphasized.

* Another area that can add value is a new floor. You could use a combination of carpet and tile or other hard surfaces, (natural or manmade). When using tile, go with the same material for the base as well.

* If you are seeking to make a bigger statement, perhaps you could install some flat screen televisions behind the teller line. Or, have your logo and tagline made of raised letters and an extruded or molded plastic sign of ram's head mounted to the wall, thus creating a 3D feel. You could also use digital wall coverings to communicate your message.

* The teller line has a lot of hard lines and corners. Soften them by rounding the edges (not the deal plate). The down light always creates a warm feel; however, the lighting in general does not appear to be of high quality. An indirect lighting package could change the mood and feel of the space, while improving the working conditions for your employees.

* Bathroom-From the photos, the bathroom does not appear to be ADA compliant. When you do remodel, you will more than likely be required to comply at that time. We would recommend a floor drain in each bathroom (your cleaning people will appreciate it, too!).

* Break room-They are all the same, it seems. Remember to look up-build your cabinets deep (i.e. 24") and go to the ceiling. Lots of storage space is available there. Also, built-in millwork could help manage the clutter altogether.

* Check desk-If you are inclined to offer a telephone and phone book, perhaps a place to sit by a new check desk could help make that nice touch even nicer. A small flat screen TV or monitor on the wall or in a custom-built check desk could provide some of the information you have in pamphlet form to the member. Then, relocate the pamphlets in holders elsewhere in the credit union.

* Relocate or lock up the thermostat. It's far too tempting for want-to-be building engineers.

* Waiting area-Not too much privacy here. The people in the cubical will have to either whisper or be heard. New accounts or loans always require some privacy, especially in small communities. Full-height walls could solve the privacy issue, while helping the members who are waiting feel a little more sheltered. Also, music from ceiling mounted speakers could create a more soothing environment and not cost tons of non-earning assets.

Jim Caliendo, PWCampbell, Pittsburgh

You have a very spacious teller area! Consider an eye-catching backlit merchandising sign in the service area behind the teller line that can be changed quarterly. The individual teller areas should display employee nameplates at "easy-to-read" eye level. You should consolidate your regulatory postings and notices into one community board for a less cluttered look. Think of your waiting area like your living room at home. Dress it up with a centerpiece on the coffee table, reading materials and perhaps a soft-light floor lamp. Display brochures in a brochure rack or a kiosk nearby for easy access.

Update your rest room with new fixtures, flooring, wall to wall carpeting or area rugs. Place posters on the walls and consider a basket with scented soaps and towels. Use some color in here, or a decorative border on the walls.

In the break/work room, place inspirational posters on the walls and invest in matching furniture and flooring, if possible. Be sure that there is adequate workspace. Hide any hanging electrical wires and cables. Clean up any unneeded items, such as the poinsettias, and place them in a storage area at this facility or off-site.

DEI Design Team, Cincinnati

The customer counter tops look too cluttered. Hang frames above counters with integrated literature holders as well as acrylic signage that is easy to read. A base cabinet would be helpful for additional hidden storage to avoid cluttered counters.

Update the lobby color scheme by painting the walls a warm neutral color and incorporating a warm color, such as camel. Reupholster the couch with a camel-colored fabric, adding a matching camel and teal pattern fabric to the chair. Remove literature from end tables and add simple accents such as art and history books and a simple terra cotta vase.

At the teller line, paint the wall behind the teller counter with an accent color and incorporate the credit union logo. Paint the side walls with an accent color, for example the blue from the logo, to break up the room. Replace the many walk-off mats with accent carpet that can be cut into the existing carpet. Remove the burgundy accents in the casework and replace with white. Incorporate directional signage and establish a queue line with literature holders.

Paint the back employee room a lively color, such as a spring green, or pumpkin orange, or even a varsity blue. Use a stainless steel cabinet to store all computer components and organize wires, which will also lend a high-tech look. Incorporate storage cabinets with doors for other supplies. Add complimentary artwork with painted canvasses to create a tonal collage.

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